Smoking a Bone-in Pork Shoulder Butt on my Pit Boss Pellet Grill

by HB Auld, Jr.

I spent my day today smoking a bone-in pork shoulder butt (no, it is not really the butt; that is just what that part of the shoulder is called.) Some would say I should have smoked banana peels or mushrooms, but I prefer the pork shoulder.

I started this morning at 3:00 a.m. (since I was up anyway) by removing the crypak-wrapped pork shoulder from the refrigerator to let it set for six hours to warm up to room temperature.

I loaded my Pit Boss 820D Pellet Grill hopper with Pit Boss All Natural Hardwood Fruit Blend (Cherry, Apple, and Maple) and then started it to warm up at 8:30 a.m. while I prepared the 7.5-pound shoulder meat for smoking.  First, I removed it from the crypak, then I trimmed a small amount of fat from the top corner.  Next, I slathered a generous rubbing of yellow mustard as a binding agent, completely covering the entire shoulder on all sides.  I then rubbed a full covering of powdered dry meat rub from a local meat market here in Paris, Texas, completely covering the entire shoulder.

I spritzed a half and half mixture of apple juice and apple cider vinegar all over the meat.

At 9:00 a.m. I placed the pork shoulder, fully covered in the dry rub, with the fat side toward my heat source (on my Pit Boss grill, that is down, since the fire pot is in the middle of the bottom of the grill.).   I spritzed a half and half mixture of apple juice and apple cider vinegar all over the meat.  I rested it on an upside down small baking pan to raise the meat up even with the smoke exit to the chimney.  That way, the meat was right in the path of the smoke as it made its exit up the chimney. I placed a small tin foil pan of water on the grill beside the meat to increase the smoke.   I set the heat temperature knob on 250 degrees and the grill had warmed up to 250 by the time I placed the meat on the grill.  Normally I would increase the “P” setting on the grill to 5 for the best smoke, but I neglected to do this until the meat was well into the cook, so I left it set at 4.   I continued to spritz the meat with the apple juice and apple cider vinegar mixture generously every hour, once an hour, throughout the smoke.  

I continued to check the meat temperature with a meat thermometer every hour when I opened the grill briefly to spritz the meat. 

The meat took a little longer than normal to reach the target temperature.  I believe this was due to not allowing it to rest outside the refrigerator and fully reach room temperature early this morning.  This slight residual chilling of the meat probably slowed the cooking.  Next time, I will remove the meat from the refrigerator earlier so it can fully reach room temperature.  At about 6 hours and 45 minutes (3:45 p.m.) into the cook, it reached my target temperature of 175 degrees.  I removed the meat from the grill and placed it in a tin foil pan with the meat wrapped up completely in tin foil.  I raised the temperature on the grill to 300 degrees and replaced the wrapped pork shoulder on the upside-down baking pan.  I topped off the small water pan beside the baking pan to increase the smoke.  

A little more than two hours later at around 6:05 p.m. (nine hours into the cook), the meat reached my target temperature of 197 to 205 degrees while wrapped. I removed it from the grill and relocated it inside in the kitchen. I checked the bark and smoke ring, then re-wrapped it to set for about 30 minutes to allow the meat to reabsorb juices.

I then broke the meat apart and separated it into the “pulled pork” I originally set out to prepare today. A little Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory and Brown Sugar BBQ sauce on the pulled pork sandwiches made a delicious evening meal.

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